8th grade is a test year for high school. Together Grace and I designed her year, choose her math textbook, created an original study for history, picked her foreign language (found a teacher), registered for marine science, expanded on our writing group, found volunteer opportunities, and set about to find a way to document it all.
As I have written before, Connecticut has no reporting mandates. We do not have to keep track of how many days we “do school” and we don’t have to submit to portfolio reviews (unless we choose to), nor do we have to take yearly or bi-yearly standardized tests. We do not have to submit curriculum plans, nor do we have to meet with the school board, or a teacher representative. We do not have to ask permission to homeschool. In effect, as I was told by a representative at HSLDA, in Connecticut the burden is not on the parents to prove that we are providing an equivalent education, but the burden would be on the school district to prove that we were not.
|I am not counting the hours she reads for Language Arts since they are being counted as history credit. I am currently researching if you can count the hours in both places since it is directly applicable to both subject areas.|
I have complete freedom in how we school, or unschool.....for that is pretty much what we do. However, I never, ever, want my girls to feel unsure of their educational experience or feel that they were not given the opportunities necessary to pursue their dreams. When I hand them a high school diploma, we both need to know what is behind that piece of paper.
So I read. And read and read. In fact, I spent last summer reading and researching how I can fit my type A personality into an unschooling environment and not drive myself or my children insane. I found what I was looking for in Barbara Edtl Shelton’s book - blog post here. Call me old-fashioned, but I did not want to keep a binder of forms on the computer. I wanted the ability to erase and add and highlight and flip through paper... real paper. It took me weeks to complete the binder but once it was done, all that was left was to start filling it up.
This may be routine for many homeschooling families, especially those in states that have rigorous reporting directives. For three years I have only kept lists in notebooks and this blog. I was starting with a blank slate.
Every day I take 10 minutes and record what Grace does during the day. It is not time consuming, stressful, or a burden. It has eliminated my lists and post-it notes. Occasionally I post a picture (or two, or three...) of the binder or some of the work we are doing that eventually finds its way into the binder on Instagram. I keep promising to sit down and write this post to share how the binder looks 8 weeks into the “school year”, although since we “school” July - June, the binder contains science trips we took in Maine and Cape Cod, music lessons and concerts we attended, and volunteering we did over the summer months. Grace’s 9th grade binder will begin on July 1, 2014.
Categories: Music, Language Arts, Bible Study, Science, Sign Language, Current Events, Art and Art Appreciation, Life Skills, History, Math, Volunteering, Physical Experiences, Field Trips, Scrapbook
This binder is truly a work in progress. I need to spend some time updating the Basic Requirement List for each section. I need to add texts, the syllabus from the Yale class and marine science class, as well as write descriptions of what she is learning and how she is learning it. For example, math is a content based class, I do not count hours. It is also important to note that she is learning this material for mastery. Each grade is recorded but she has the opportunity to retake any quiz/test until she is satisfied with the grade she receives (which I hope is always an A).
The beauty of this is that everything we do has a place in the binder, whether it is a naturalist led whale watch, or a physics class at Yale, an algebra lesson or a Red Cross Babysitting Course. I feel comfortable that Grace will meet or exceed a 120 hour credit, through a natural exploration of the community she resides in, through connecting with professionals in many different areas, though internships, through projects, and travel, through online pursuits, as well as classroom experiences, and all the while enjoying the comfort and support of her home and her family.